The Elder Scrolls

The Mess in Cathnoquey

Once, a few years ago and under the patronage of the Telvanni Master Wizard Sevy Serolas, you travelled far past the mushroom towers of Port Telvannis in hopes of finding the remnants of the old colonists who settled a collection of islands in the Far East, more mythical than real. Sevy predicted you would find very little, perhaps ruins inhabited by a degenerated race of not-quite-Chimer who would speak gibberish (‘Like Argonian but more intelligent’ in her words.) and amaze themselves with your clothes and ship. No one has ever returned from those lands, you see, so there was no expectation of any society there, much less an advanced one.

So, one day you boarded the ship which had been hired to take you, and set off. Away from the malformed towers of the Telvanni Coast and toward the rising sun, projecting its light over the ocean in amber glades and shimmering brushstrokes. It took just less than a month till you first sighted a collection of islands, settled under the tyranny of dark clouds, full with brewing lightning. Imagine the shock of your hardy crew when the islands began lobbing spells at them. You tried to deflect as many of the fireballs as you could with your ring, which is enchanted to produce a strong ward, but the ship took to the fire very eagerly, and soon seawater was flooding aboard. The following events are still a blur to you, but you remember the look of horror on the face of a Dunmeri sailor as he was sucked under the water, that’s for sure, and then nothing but the cold grip of the ocean and its salty taste.

The next memory that isn’t alike a fever dream was waking up upon the shores of the Cathnoquey archipelago and being dragged across the black sand. A spear was placed to your throat, and someone that almost looked Altmeri began threatening you. Thankfully his language was close enough to Aldmeris that you could understand him. You explained who you were, how his cousins in Morrowind had hired you, and he accepted your answers with a hesitant scowl. In turn he gave you a brief overview of the strange land that is Cathnoquey.

There are many races in the isles, which is problematic when the ocean is so temperamental. In fact, entire islands of the archipelago can be flooded for years on end, before suddenly re-emerging. This means that resources and land are in constant demand between the people, and of those people there are four races: the Chimeri-Quey, the Fulmer, the Tsaesha (Snake Voyage) and the Ghul Mithra.

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The Chimeri-Quey live in a strange imitation of High Velothi culture. As expected, worship of the Good Deadra (Primarily Boethia, who is referred to as Storm-Slayer.) and the ancestors is vital. Of course, no tombs can be made, however, as they as soon flooded and desecrated by the ocean. As such, bodies are fully burnt till their bones are blackened, then they are sprinkled upon the beaches. The spouse will usually keep a finger bone however, and amputate their own to replace it with their dead spouse’s. Their towers are constructed from wooden sticks, and more like scaffolds than long lasting structures, and are used as show of power. The population is made up of several different tribal communities. Wherein a First After Veloth rules with the approval of a religious council, who divine messages from the light of Azura’s Star (The actual star, not the gem.) by its colour and intensity. They fashion armour and weapons from the shells of dreugh, and eat a diet of fish and fruits. They’ve struggled ever since landing in Cathnoquey, ever at war with the Fulmer, though they revel in the challenge.

The Fulmer, meaning Storm-Folk, are a race of maybe-elves who live below the waves and torment the surface dwellers with Dusk Era magicka. Their skin is liquid-like and dark, mimicking the nature of the ocean abyss itself. They make up several principalities, all of which worship Ohm Mormora , the Dark Underforest, as it roughly translates. This god is incredibly strange, however, as it a sentient library which acts as the nexus between worlds. It was once the house of the gods before they abandoned civil debate in exchange for barbarism and war. Their cities are grandiose and elaborate, and the towers are so tall and numerous they can influence the strength and direction of the waves. Some Chimer believe they are too barbaric to have made the cities, and that they are pulled from Oblivion, a time which has not come or even Aldmeris. Perhaps even all three. The diet is almost entirely a microbial sludge taken from hot vents, which they then rub on their skin to slowly absorb the nutrients. They are entirely aggressive to the surface dwelling races, and although their magical technique is superior, they can never emerge from the water, lest the Eye of the Dragon send them back to their fate at the edge of time. As such, the Chimer have taken to using telekinesis to drag them from the ocean, whereas the Tsaesha have designed sword-harpoons to do the same. The Ghul Mithra merely use the leviathans of the ocean to beat them back.

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The Tsaesha may sound similar to the Tsaesci, but you must never say that. The two nations despise each other greatly. Long ago, in the early days of Akavir, the political power rested in the farms and the rural communities, but this changed with urbanisation, till the Palaces exerted dominance over Tsaesci. Some rebels, dissidents and old timers came to resist the Palaces, and after sacking Kanon Yiho, they were exiled to the west. The culture still has this resistance to authority, and is greatly egalitarian for it. To the Tsaesha, community and altruism is everything, to the point that the individual may as well be dead. They make decisions after long and jolly debates, during which more jokes are cracked than problems solved. They’re also unique for having no worship of gods nor ancestors, just a sense of deep reverence and respect for their religious teachers, Saints of the Kiai, as well as a intimate relationship with the sea itself. This relationship becomes apparent when they enter the water, transforming from men to snakes, who can slip through the waves with elegance. Unlike the Tsaesci, who’s scales are gold and reflect an internalised sense of grandeur and decadence, the Tsaesha have green and blue scales, causing them to blend in with the ocean. They are an entirely vegetarian society, and primarily respect philosophers and artists. As such, warriors are expected to be able to fight both physically and culturally, in both warfare and poetry. This is good for the Chimeri-Quey, as the Tsaesha have historically been very friendly, and the two share a relationship of mutual respect and defence against the Fulmer. In some cases there has been marriage between individuals from the two races. The Tsaesha believe that in death their soul becomes water, and they travel down to the gears of Nirn to keep them moving. Therefore, even in death, they serve the community at large.

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The last race is the Ghul Mithra, though that’s a questionable classification. They are a race of ghosts, in between life and death. They may possess any stone or tree and even other life, but mostly inhabit men made from jade, and then imitate things living people do. For instance, you may come across a village of jade children playing tag, and jade elders discussing important matters, though they cannot speak, so it’s just an imitation of debate. When the waves and the winds provide an appropriate tune, they have been known to create music, which summons the greatest of them to Nirn. This often involves one hundred metre tall translucent giants reenacting old battles. Apart from these observations, not much is known.

“This is all true?” Sevy asks, scrutinising you with her tired, red eyes. You nod, halting your recitation of the strange things you learned.

“Why wouldn’t it be? I’ve never lied to you before,” you reply.

“It feels awfully eventful, is all,” she says with a shrug and a sigh.

“Well, I got you something,” you say, opening your backpack. It takes a fair bit of effort, but you manage to pull a jade cat out from your back, which glances around curiously, before pouncing onto the table between you and Sevy, knocking over the teacups you were using.

“Huh,” she mumbles, eyes wide and intrigued. “This is sufficient, consider the job complete, collect your payment on the way out.”

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